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October 2010

Beyond Borges: Argentina Now

Image: Diego Gravinese, Crowns of beauty and happiness, acrylic on canvas, 90 x 63 inches (in collaboration with Fernanda Laguna)

This month we join the publishing world in celebrating Argentina, guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair and a pulse point of the vibrant Latin American literary scene. As might be expected of the heirs of Borges and Cortázar, the writers featured here both reflect and extend the masters’ work, combining a touch of the fantastic with surprising turns of both plot and phrase. The prolific Ana María Shua sends an alien invader in a clever disguise.  Guillermo Martínez watches a couple struggle with chance and unimaginable loss.  Sergio Bizzio’s teens pull a disappearing act. Irish-Argentine Juan José Delaney considers mortality, while young star Samanta Schweblin practices unorthodox family planning. In two tales of the Dirty War, writer and journalist Mempo Giardinelli metes out a karmic revenge, and Edgar Brau reports from a prison camp. Poet Maria Negroni stands at the mouth of hell. National Critics Prize-winner Andrés Neuman’s quarreling couple literally draws a line in the sand. The great Silvina Ocampo pens a gentle fable. And in contributions from other languages, Witold Gombrowicz's widow collects tales of his time in Argentina, and Lúcia Bettencourt reveals the secrets of Borges’s muse.

Elsewhere this month, Dimitris Athinakis talks texts with Peter Constantine and searches for an equation, and Yang Zi files a farm report.

Octavio the Invader

While the woman was in the bathroom, Alex leaned on the cradle with all the weight of his little body until he tipped it over.

The “I Ching” and the Man of Papers

In Tokyo, in Buenos Aires, in New York, every night, routinely, someone kills a loved one in his dreams.


God’s Punishment

"If I have to kill a thousand innocent people in order to unearth a single guerrilla, I will."


It’s difficult to accept the idea of receiving Teresita so soon, but I don’t want to hurt her, either.

The Key

"Have you ever seen a human body decompose before? No? Well, you will now."

Five Poems from “Mouth of Hell”

The ephemeral, suddenly, dazzling, like the shrewd play of verses. Steep curve. A river of hermetic prestige diverted from its own digressions. Possible visions to capture the cry of the

The Two Coins

Countless small spiders were spreading out over his skin in a kind of exotic dance.

A Line in the Sand

"Don’t move." Ruth was holding a wooden racket.


"You really make people disappear!?"

The Golden Hare

Not all hares are alike, Jacinto, and it wasn't her fur, believe me, that distinguished her from the other hares, not her Tartar eyes nor the whimsical shape of her ears.

Borges’s Secretary

I can’t, nor do I want to, unmask her, because in doing so I would destroy myself.

from “Gombrowicz in Argentina”

He could have written a book on the art of falling into disgrace.


Book Reviews

Mahmoud Darwish’s “Journal of an Ordinary Grief”

Reviewed by André Naffis-Sahely

Every artist, particularly if they happen to be a good one, is in a sense posthumous

Buddhadeva Bose’s “My Kind of Girl”

Reviewed by Tommy Wallach

A brief encounter with a young couple in love inspires the men to pass the time by telling stories of love from their own lives.

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